The Executive Director of Soaring Spirits International, Michele, posted three group photos of Camp Widow recently. She unknowingly illustrated an evolution of one of the widows in the room…me.
In the first shot, I’m way in the back. I know I’m there but I’m hidden, or hiding. I mean come on, why in the world would I be in a room full of widows at the age of 44? In the next, I’m closer to the front: owning my experience, learning, growing, moving forward but still somewhat on the edges, tentative. In the last I’m standing shoulder to shoulder with Michele and we are smiling, genuinely smiling. I am transformed and transforming. Michele supports widowed people in a way that often leaves me in awe. Love is her superpower and it shows. By this point in my own evolution I have embraced my life the way it really is, not the way it was supposed to be. I experienced the worst pain of my life and lived. I’ve stepped all the way to the front now, no longer afraid to be seen.
When I started my business as a grief support practitioner I imagined working with clients one-on-one and while I still do that I’ve found that my greatest rewards come from teaching and leading creative group sessions. Camp Widow has offered me the opportunity to lead groups several times and when they are over I have a sense of reward that was absent in my work life for many years.
I have also had the opportunity to teach creative grief support practices to hospice workers, counselors and pastors through the Creative Grief Studio where I received my certification. Like Michele, Studio founders Cath and Kara support people who are grieving in a way that can only come from deep experience. They stay curious about grief and what it means to live wholeheartedly in the face of it. They deeply understand that the ability to live a fulfilling life after tremendous loss cannot be summarized in a package of neat phases or wiped away by trite declarations so commonly offered when confronted with someone else’s grief. I have loved working with them and I am happy to announce that I will be taking on a bigger role with this organization.
My vocation is also transformed and transforming. When I quit my corporate job a few years ago I wondered if I would miss it eventually. A friend asked me last week if I had any regrets about that choice. I had not thought about it in so long that the question caught me off guard. What a surprise to immediately know in my heart that, no, I had no regrets.
This life doesn’t fit the traditional mold I had pictured, however. After so many years in that corporate job I have had to shift my expectation that vocation comes in the form of a titled position with a routine paycheck every two weeks. It takes some getting used to but I have found rewards in fulfillment, purpose and flexibility to be where I want to be that I never imagined.
Here’s where you can find me most days:
- Volunteer leader of an Atlanta social group for widowed people through Soaring Spirits International. Click here to receive info on the next get-together.
- Teaching and supporting the Creative Grief Studio program in an expanded role. Click here to learn more about the certification program.
- Supporting my family by tapping into my own creativity and resourcefulness.
- Curating my late husband’s body of work and making sure it is still out in the world through fine art sales.
- Talking on the phone to someone deeply in pain but also committed to finding a way to live forward.
- Creating and sharing a little heARTwork of my own like the Mandala series I’m working on right now.
I am living my calling. In this moment, I am right where I need to be.